Animal Rights Africa: Activism & Witness

“I have seen first hand how injustice gets overlooked when the victims are perceived as powerless or vulnerable, when they have no one to speak up for them and no means of representing themselves to a higher authority. Animals are in precisely that position. Unless we are mindful of their interests, and speak out loudly on their behalf, abuse and cruelty goes unchallenged.” — Archbishop Desmond Tutu, quoted in the Introduction of Animal Rights in South Africa, by Michele Pickover, p. 15.

We connect live with Pickover and her colleague, Steve Smit, both with the organization Animal Rights Africa. First, we’ll hear about Pickover’s ambitious book, Animal Rights in South Africa, which details the treatment of animals in South Africa, activist mobilization, and the institutional barriers that hinder meaningful change. Written from an abolitionist perspective, Pickover’s lucid writing (including many first-hand accounts) takes readers to a wide range of environments in South Africa, from animal experimentation laboratories, canned hunts, zoos, national parks, and slaughterhouses, to mention only a few. Yet readers never lose sight of the particular, as the text includes numerous case studies portraying the personal travails of many animals who have experienced, and even survived, abhorrent treatment. Tune in to hear some of their stories.

Pickover’s analysis stresses connections between animal oppression and human oppression throughout, at times drawing links between apartheid and animal abuse. Such a connection is perhaps most concretely illustrated within her descriptions of military-run animal experiments that involved the development of biological and chemical agents to be used against “the perceived enemies of the apartheid state” (p. 131). Further, acutely aware of how economic and global forces shape animals’ lives in South Africa, Pickover shows how international trade and investment implicates those well beyond national borders.

Turning to the work of Animal Rights Africa, formed through the combination of Justice for Animals, Xwe African Wildlife and South Africans for the Abolition of Vivisection, we’ll hear about some of the current campaigns waged by this abolitionist organization. For example, Smit and Pickover will discuss their recent presentation to the South African parliament about elephant “culling”, which causes not only death, but also stress and trauma in the herds.

For more information:

Animal Rights In South Africa book review

Listen right now:

or download an mp3 of the interview.

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